M1133 was born at the California Wolf Center in 2008 and lived at New Mexico’s Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility since his puppyhood. Like most of the Mexican wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center, M1133 was cared for in a way to best prepare him for a future in the wild. In order to ensure the genetic health of this terribly limited population, it’s vital that the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program grants new wolves an opportunity to join their wild kin. And what an amazing gift to bestow – freedom!
In January of 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approved the release of M1133 in hopes that the young male would fill a void within Arizona’s Bluestem pack created after alpha male M806 was illegally shot and killed on July 6, 2012. M1133 was released on January 8th in the Apache National Forest of east-central Arizona, however, his stint in the wild was short lived. After just 3 weeks in the wild, M1133 was placed back in captivity. USFWS captured the lobo because he failed to catch the attention of the Bluestem Pack’s alpha female. Shortly after his release, M1133 headed east crossing the state border into New Mexico. When it became clear to USFWS that he was heading increasingly further away from all wild lobos (likely in search for a mate) it was decided that the genetically valuable wolf can better contribute to the recovery of this rare species by being introduced to a mate in captivity. M1133 was then paired with wild-born female F1108 at USFWS’ captive breeding facility and the pair were slated for release that spring.
A few months later, wolves F1108 (then pregnant) and M1133, newly dubbed the Half Moon Pack, had successfully bred and were up for trans-location into the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. Right away M1133 was on the move traveling further and further away from F1108 who had stayed near the release site. By the end of the week he had trekked over 75 miles and was out of the recovery area in poor habitat, and surrounded by human settlements, major roadways, and very little natural prey thus creating a dangerous situation for his survival. Consequently, just a week after his second chance at freedom, a decision was made to recapture M1133 and bring him back to captivity.
Today, M1133 will be joining the Wolf Conservation Center family. Although we wish the captive born lobo could have remained in the wild, he’ll receive the best care in his new home and his story will contribute to our efforts to raise awareness of the importance of his endangered kin and the challenges of recovery on the wild landscape. Welcome to the WCC, lobo.